Cybathlon started out as a project inside the Wearable Robotics Grand Challenge of NCCR Robotics, during the second phase of our activities (2014-2018). ETH Zurich and NCCR Robotics organised this competitive sports event with two aims:
- on one side, give people with severe motor deficits – too severe for the Paralympic games, where most assistive technologies are not allowed – a chance to compete and get back self-confidence.
- on the other side, to promote the development and application of the most advanced assistive and wearable technologies, eventually spinning off new solutions as a result of the technological competition.
The first Cybathlon took place in October 2016 (the same year of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) in Zurich, with teams involved from all over the world in six sets of races.
After the first edition, ETH Zurich fully took on the organisation of the second one in 2020. Although the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the original plan for a live event with an audience Cybathlon 2020 went ahead. Completely reinvented as a global, distributed event, the race was a huge success. 51 teams from 20 countries competed against each other in different time zones and locations, completing everyday tasks with the help of state-of-the-art assistance systems.